Electrical appliance safety – standards update

Small terrier dog lying in front of electric heater

The EL-002 standards development committee held their 153rd meeting in Melbourne, Australia last month. At the meeting, the committee reviewed several standards including those covering evaporative coolers used in bushfire prone areas, radiation limits for sunbeds, and safety requirements for dishwashers. Upcoming work includes standards for the touch temperature of appliances, the stability of freestanding ranges, the safety of electric toys and electric tools/lawn and garden machinery. The committee also ensures that AS/NZS standards are aligned with international standards.

Joint AS/NZS committee

EL-002 is a joint Australian and New Zealand standards committee chaired by New Zealander Derek Johns. The committee has 23 Australian and five New Zealand members, and meets twice yearly. New Zealand has managed the secretariat since 2001, providing technical and administrative services to the committee.

The committee develops joint AS/NZS standards for household electrical appliances, small power transformers, power tools, and power supplies while in use with people, livestock, and surroundings.

Derek says that the committee considers many safety factors when preparing consumer and industry standards to ensure that electrical appliances are safe and protect users.

‘We look at how to protect users against hazards such as electric shock, mechanical hazards, hazards relating to burns and fire, explosion hazards, toxicity and radiation hazards, and firmware/software corruption.’

Latest work

At the 153rd meeting, the committee reviewed several standards, as outlined below.

Safety of evaporative coolers in bushfire areas

In Australia, roof mounted evaporative coolers (humidifiers) that are installed in homes in bushfire prone areas can be a fire risk. The filter pads in these coolers are flammable. This means that the cooler can catch alight from bushfire embers entering the cooler, which can cause damage or burn down a home.

EL-002 has been working on improving the safety of these coolers since the Perth Hills Bushfire 2011 review. This review recommended that protection screens be fitted to these coolers when used in bushfire prone areas.

The committee agreed that an amendment is needed to the standard, AS/NZS 60335.2.98. The amendment will be an Australian only requirement for bushfire protection screens to be fitted where needed. The committee agreed to seek public comment and a committee vote on the amendment.

Sunbed safety

There is increasing concern worldwide about the effect that ultraviolet radiation from sunbeds has on the body. The committee agreed that the level of radiation specified in the sunbed standard needs to be reduced, to improve the safety of sunbeds.

The committee agreed to publish an amendment to standard, AS/NZS 60335.2.27, which will reduce radiation levels to a much lower level than is currently specified.

Safety requirements for dishwashers

An important part of EL-002’s work is to keep abreast of what’s happening internationally and to adopt international standards as they are modified.

The committee discussed the new edition of the IEC standard for dishwashers, which provides the latest safety related software requirements. They also considered requirements to reduce the risk of fire related incidents caused by components in dishwashers.

The committee agreed to publish a new edition of the standard, AS/NZS 60335.2.5, to align with the latest IEC standard.

Upcoming work

EL-002’s upcoming work includes:

  • a review of the surface temperature limits for appliances to reduce the burn hazard that children may be exposed to, for example, on the glass doors of an oven. Most contact burns are with arms and hands
  • ongoing work on stability requirements for freestanding ranges, to prevent them tipping, for example, on to a child. In the next 6 months, the committee will adopt the latest IEC standard as AS/NZS 60335.2.6:2014
  • starting a process to adopt the IEC 62841 series of standards as AS/NZS standards. These standards provide the latest requirements for the safety of electric-motor operated hand-held, transportable tools, and lawn and garden machinery. EL-002 has already discussed the adoption of these standards with key stakeholders in Australia and New Zealand
  • starting to participate in a review of the standard for the safety of electric toys, IEC 62115. The review will assess toys with light-emitting diodes and the effect these have on retina damage. A new edition is expected to be adopted as an AS/NZS standard in 2016.

Aligning with international standards

Derek says that EL-002 has an ongoing commitment to participate in international standards development. ‘Our participation ensures that AS/NZS standards are aligned with international standards and also that our requirements are considered at an international level.’

EL-002 is the Australia and New Zealand mirror committee for IEC technical committee (TC) 61, which develops standards for the safety of household and similar electrical appliances. Derek also chairs IEC TC 61.

EL-002 also acts as:

  • the mirror committee for the following subcommittees (SCs) of IEC TC 61: SC 61C Safety of refrigeration appliances, SC 61D Safety of air conditioning appliances, and SC 61H Safety of farm appliances
  • the mirror committee for IEC TC 96 Safety of small power transformers and power supplies and TC 116 Safety of hand-held power tools, transportable tools and garden appliances.

Published in energy.